In preparation for running the NYC Marathon in November of 2016, I decided I would do a warm-up half a couple months before to try my running equipment/routine out and to see how my training was going for me. I decided to run the Breckenridge Half Marathon because it was being held in a city I love that is just a couple hours from my home, and because I knew the fall scenery would be spectacular. Since the race starts at 11, 481 feet above sea level, and stays at 9600 feet above sea level for the majority of the race, I knew this wasn’t going to be a race that I could plan to achieve a PR at. The half is just part of the action here; there is also a full marathon–America’s Highest Road Marathon–and a 1/4 marathon option. All races start up on Boreas Pass Road and finish on Breckenridge Main Street.
September 17, 2016 – The Race
I must say, for this race only being in its second year, it was done quite well. The small field was appealing and also helped with the superb roll-out of this event. Vertical Runner Breckenridge–the premier running store in the area–helps sponsor and host this amazing event. The half starts at 8:15 am and shuttle vans take runners to the start up Boreas Pass.
Running through beautiful Summit County Colorado in September is hard to beat. Fall colors abound! The majority of this race is on a paved rec path with generous downhill at the start and then steady rolling hills for the remainder of the race.
It was 36 degrees at race start and topped off at 46 degrees by the finish, so I had to dress appropriately for that temperature, but with the sun out and shining, it really didn’t cause me any problems. (The highs for us that weekend were in the low 60s.)
I loved the small-town feel and charm of this scenic course, but be warned that you will feel the elevation! Even with regularly training at 5200 feet above sea level, doubling that really makes a noticeable difference! I felt like I was running up a hill constantly, even on flat terrain because of the elevation component. That being said, I was still able to run about a 7:45 average pace and achieve a top-finishing time–but I fought for it! Especially over the last 4.5 miles of the course which are a slow ascending paved trail to the finish.
Having my kids and husband find me on the course and run with me through the finish were beautiful highlights of this experience. I run/compete for them; to teach them to do their best at whatever they choose to pursue, so having them there to see me finish and be on the podium, was really great.
Depending on your goals, this race could be for you! Even though I loved landing on the podium, it took significant work to get there because of the elevation. If I was to return to this race, I would run it at a fun, comfortable pace rather than try and race it. That component took away from the experience for me. So, if you are looking to put your racing skills to the test, this may not be the course for you. If you are looking for a fun, beautiful, well-organized unique race in a gorgeous setting to just get out and enjoy running–it is definitely for you!
2nd Female with a time of 1:42: 17; 5th overall. I loved the wood medal that I received at the finish, the delicious food they provided at the Vertical Runner store after the race, and the unique wood trophy I was awarded for my finish time.
The Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge is the host hotel, and offers discount rates for race participants. This hotel was SOOO fun! Our family had a blast trying out their row of outdoor hot tubs, swimming in their heated pool that is half outside, half inside, and playing mini golf in the basement of the hotel. They also have a fun arcade in the basement that awards tickets and prize machine the kids can use to trade tickets for trinkets.
Post-race relaxing! (I did get in and swim too!)
Breckenridge and Nearby Frisco
Breckenridge has no shortage of things to do, so it is a perfect place for a family-race-weekend. Biking, hiking, exploring main street, riding the gondola are all recommended! Nearby Frisco is also one of my favorite Colorado towns. Peppino’s Pizza in Frisco is a great place for a pre-race, carb-loading meal the night before (try their garlic knots!) We also love getting ice-cream/treats at historic Foote’s Rest Sweet Shoppe on Main Street in Frisco. We often bike around Dillon Reservoir in Frisco. It is a beautiful, paved path with picturesque bridges and landscapes. Main Street in Frisco is also charming! Summit County in the Fall is hard to beat!